Live Like There’s No Tomorrow

By Amy Rauch Neilson

I often act like there’s no tomorrow. And rightfully so, I suppose, since I have a Stage 4 breast cancer diagnosis.

But I’ve learned a lot in the four months since my diagnosis.

For one, I’m still here. And I’m doing well. Very well.

For another, I need to behave like that which I expect to become: A long-term Stage 4 breast cancer survivor

Of course, it’s terrifying. Of course anyone in my shoes would have the right to feel like “this is it” – and then act accordingly. That’s why, for example, I insisted on two Easter Egg hunts this year, instead of just one. Why I’m thrilled that it’s almost summer – and I’m still here.

There’s nothing wrong with living life to its fullest and seizing the day…unless you’re pushing yourself to the point where you’re going backwards – and enjoyment has turned into obsession. Obsessed with squeezing every moment out of life… just in case. I was teetering on that edge.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, one of my doctors finally got it through my thick head. My body needs all of its strength to get me to the other side of this

That would seem, oh, I don’t know, OBVIOUS.

But that day, it was like a paradigm shift for me. Reserve as much energy for my body’s healing process as possible and I’ll likely get this done and over with – the chemo, the doctor’s appointments, the whole active cancer patient thing – faster. Behave like what you want to become. Behave like you’re going to live.

I’m learning to strike a balance. and for me, the one whose motto has always been to live life’s moments to the extreme, that’s a big deal.

I’m never gonna be the girl who stays in bed until the chemotherapy regimen is over. But I also don’t have to be the girl who’s going to wear herself out to the point where her body doesn’t have all that it needs to fight the good fight – and win.

Saturday’s Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure was a great example of finding that middle ground. The night before, my sister Julie called me from Florida. “You should really consider turning around at the One Mile Marker,” she said. “You’ll still get the whole experience of being there. You just won’t be so wiped out.”

“Great idea,” I said, with not much intention of doing so

But then Race Day came. Our team, Amy’s Walking Angels, reached the One Mile Marker. At that moment, I made the decision. I turned around. I’d been able to be there, surrounded by my team of family and friends and thousands of people in pink and white, all together moving toward a common goal: To end breast cancer. Forever

We’re all in this together, to end it. And those of us who have been diagnosed with the disease – we’re in it to win it.

I certainly don’t have to be bedridden. But neither should I be hang-gliding. At least, not just yet.

Copyright 2011, Amy Rauch Neilson

Leave a comment


  1. Thank you, Amy –

    As an endometrial cancer surThrivor, I’ve experienced the same – wearing myself out because of my stubborn intent to not give in to disease, and worried that I might miss out on something good.

    You’ve expressed this perfectly.

    Kudos to you – now go take a nap.


  2. Lori

     /  May 23, 2011

    Very novel….striking a balance! I know it is difficult for you to hold back and rest when you should. I’m so very proud of you!


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